Great little hatchback that’s too often overlooked
- Excellent passenger and luggage space
- Good visibility
- Solid build quality
- Tidy handling
- Media system feels dated
- Some hard interior plastics
- Restricted engine choice
- CVT automatic not great
This is the fourth-generation of Honda Jazz (there was one sold briefly in the mid-1980s), a supermini that sells in huge numbers around the world. In fact, it’s one of Honda’s most important models, so it’s no surprise that the winning formula of being easy to drive and very practical is still in force for the current version.
Going up against traditional supermini rivals like the Skoda Fabia, Hyundai i20 and Citroen C3, there’s also a whiff of mini-MPV in the way it looks. It’s certainly popular – it’s the fourth bestselling supermini in the UK after perennial favourites, the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa.
Greater focus on space, efficiency and quality
A longer wheelbase than most superminis means more space for passengers – with similar interior dimensions to a Mercedes-Benz E-Class (seriously) despite being a metre shorter, as Honda is keen to point out.
A centrally mounted fuel tank means the Magic Seats (that were so popular in past Civic models, but dropped in the tenth-generation car), are present, with an additional 80mm of loadspace from front to back compared with the previous-generation Jazz. The front passenger seat can be fully reclined to fit long items in, including an 8ft surfboard, if you so desired.
A choice of two petrol engines is available in the Jazz – a 1.3- and a 1.5-litre – and both are naturally aspirated (they don’t use a turbocharger). There’s a choice of manual or CVT transmissions, too.
There’s plenty of technology on board, including a 7.0-inch touchscreen controlling the infotainment system, and a raft of safety measures including an intelligent speed limiter that reads road signs and changes the car’s maximum speed, as well as standard-fit autonomous emergency braking.
Solid interior, but nothing to wow you
From behind the wheel of the Jazz is where you notice its MPV similarities, with a deep dashboard reaching towards the big, sweeping windscreen and large triangular windows ahead of the front doors. It’s a bright and airy interior and it’s very easy to see out of, making it a great car to nip around town in.
It’s a doddle to find a comfortable driving position, although front seat passengers might find the lack of seat height adjustment a bit of a pain – you feel very high up in comparison with the driver.
Quality is good. There aren’t any particularly special-feeling materials to speak of – but it is solidly built and and the majority of the car’s functions are easy to operate.
Facelift for 2018
The facelifted Jazz was shown at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show. Its bumpers were reprofiled with what Honda describes as more aggressive detailing, especially on new Sport models which come with a chamfered look to the front and rear bumpers with red trimming, whereas the rest of the range looks a little less attention-grabbing.
The Parkers Verdict
We like the Honda Jazz hatchback – it has a nicely engineered feel, with crisp and responsive engines, a tight and accurate (manual) gearchange, and responsive steering. In short, buy this car and you can be sure that it won't let you down; it’ll be very easy to drive and live with.
Other plus points are its roomy interior and large boot for this size of car – the interior is incredibly flexible for such a small footprint. There are a few rough edges, such as some of its dashboard plastics, but on the whole, it's a worthy, safe, choice – although it's someway off the class-leading Ford Fiesta and SEAT Ibiza.